After almost four decades, England has a FIFA World Cup™ winner. As the curtain came down on the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2005 in spectacular style in London, 18-year-old Chris Bullard claimed the title of FIFA Interactive World Player 2005. Chris has also secured a ticket to the one of the biggest footballing events of the year, the FIFA World Player Gala, which takes place in Zurich on Monday evening.
Understandably, Chris was ecstatic following his England team's 5-2 win over Gabor Mokos from Hungary. "The whole tournament was just brilliant," he beamed. "I have always wanted to win it. It is a dream come true, the best present I could ever have wished for."
Chris competed against gamers from England, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Sydney, Cologne and Paris as well another winner from the Xbox Live Final which took place earlier in the day. The finalists competed head to head in group stages with the two best players from each group going through to a semi final. The final match saw Chris take on Gabor in a memorable encounter that had the crowd on their feet throughout.
London the venue for the Grand Final
The action kicked off early on Sunday 18 December as the 22 Xbox Live winners, the eight winners from the regional tournaments and their friends and family arrived at The Brewery. Some headed straight for the Xbox 360 consoles to get in some last-minute practice, while others enjoyed meeting up with old foes or simply soaked up the atmosphere and prepared themselves for the day ahead.
The Xbox Live competition quickly whittled the 22 players down to four who competed in two games to decide which of the two would progress through to the Grand Final. Manuel Voltolina from Italy took on Denmark's Christian Wind Bøglund while Robin Fitters from Belgium took on Chris. After two pulsating finals Manuel and Chris took the honours and took their places in the Grand Final.
Ten became four as the top two players in each group played out a semi final. Chris took on Ruben Morales from Mexico, the winner of the Los Angeles tournament. Chris was quickly into his stride with what could well be the quickest goal of the entire tournament! A poor defensive clearance from Ruben's Brazilian team allowed Michael Owen to secure an easy goal in a matter of seconds. His lead was short-lived as Ronaldinho quickly levelled the scores and the game was well and truly on.
A goal for both teams just before the break meant that it was 2-2 at half-time. In the second half both teams were struggling to find a breakthrough, but just as extra-time beckoned, Wayne Rooney latched onto an inch perfect through-ball and slotted home to rapturous applause from the crowd. It was Rooney who put the game beyond reach in the closing minutes to put England 4-2 ahead. Despite Ruben's best efforts it was Chris who was victorious and secured a place in the final match.
The second semi-final saw Gabor take on Javier Devis Lara, the winner of the previous week's tournament in Paris. Both players plumped for Brazil and scored goals early in the first half: Robinho for Gabor, Ronaldo for Javier.
The second half provided a nervous experience for their supporters; Kaka put Javier ahead but shortly afterwards Ronaldinho restored parity. Adriano then put Gabor in front, but a careless tackle from one of his defenders provided Javier with a penalty and an opportunity to score the all-important equaliser. The crowd watched in amazement as Dida became the hero by saving the spot-kick and taking Gabor through to the final.
The venue was crackling with tension as the 2005 tournament came down to its final match: England versus Brazil. Owen and Adriano scored with style and a near-miss by John Terry prevented Chris from taking the lead. A dreadful challenge by Lampard saw him red-carded and provided Chris with the challenge of playing 70 minutes with 10 men.
Despite their disadvantage, Rooney put England 2-1 up just before half time. Ronaldo quickly put the Brazilians on equal terms after the break but two more goals from Rooney gave England and Chris an unassailable lead. To rub salt into his opponent's wounds Owen capitalised on a defensive error to give the Englishman a remarkable victory and the title of 'FIFA Interactive World Player 2005'.